The Seattle City Council voted on Monday, Nov. 23, to defund the Seattle Police Department (SPD). The city’s 2021 budget slashes police funding by 18 percent, moving a lot of this money into community programs.
The adopted budget – which Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has signaled that she is willing to sign – cuts over $30 million from the SPD. This comes after months of intense negotiations between the mayor, the council and Black Lives Matter and Antifa rioters and activists. In early July seven of the council’s nine members
“The budget reduces the size of SPD’s sworn force, transfers functions from SPD that are better performed in a more civilianized practice and makes short-term reductions to SPD’s budget in response to the [Wuhan coronavius] pandemic,” read the budget proposal.
The number of sworn officers in the SPD is being cut from 1,422 to 1,400. Cuts will be made to overtime pay. The SPD’s parking enforcement and emergency hotline services will also be moved away from the department. At least $100 million will also be channeled into a new “Equitable Communities Initiative,” a community program specifically for the city’s people of color.
“These investments will center and be determined by Black and Indigenous communities,” said Durkan in her statement.
According to Councilmember Lisa Herbold, the budget is simply a “first step” towards rethinking how Seattle deals with public safety issues. It calls for the hiring of more social workers, nurses and other “community helpers” who can be dispatched in place of the police.
Councilmember Tammy Morales, meanwhile, called on her fellow members to “reject the premise that more officers leads to more safety.”
“Your council, your city is working for you … making sure there is a hand to hold through this crisis,” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, the chairperson of the council’s budget committee.
Eight of the nine councilmembers voted for the new budget.
“I believe we’ve turned a corner and can make collaborative, data-driven decisions that advance our shared policy goals,” said Durkan.
Defunding effort faces strong criticism from police
The Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG), the major police union representing rank-and-file SPD members, has not taken too kindly to their budget being slashed.
The SPOG called the city council and their new budget “naive” and said that the people of Seattle will suffer because of this. Now, it will take SPD officers longer to respond to emergencies.
“You’re going to see crime rise,” said SPOG President Mike Solan. “We’re already seeing increased homicide rates that we haven’t seen in decades.” (Related: “I refuse to work for this socialist city council” – Seattle police resigning in droves due to city’s anti-police environment.)
“These are all really exciting things that have been won after many, many years of mobilizing and partnering together,” said Nikkita Oliver, a Black Lives Matter organizer who spoke during a virtual meeting of Black Lives Matter and Antifa personnel to discuss the outcome of the city council’s vote.
“They’ve been won because of the uprising and defense of Black lives, and the many people who put their feet to the ground, who have made calls, sent emails and organized their communities.”
Oliver stressed that their fight isn’t done. Black Lives Matter and Antifa’s original demand was for the city to defund the SPD by 50 percent. The city’s radical left have signaled that they will continue agitating until their demands are met.
Many councilmembers formerly agreed to cut the SPD budget by 50 percent. Durkan hailed their decision to not stick by their old pledge.
“I applaud the City Council for taking a more deliberate and measured approach to the 2021 Seattle Police Department budget than occurred this summer which led to the resignation of former SPD Chief Carmen Best,” said the mayor.
Learn more about the latest anti-police actions enacted by Democrats in Seattle and in other parts of the country by reading the latest articles at Rioting.news.